Chapter 2: Balthazar
“Where? I don’t see anything!” a second, more gruff and grouchy voice came from somewhere behind her, and Tilly tried to turn around to see who had spoken. But her wings were caught in the pine needles.
I have wings! she thought with excitement as she glimpsed the golden adornments attached at her shoulders in her attempt to free herself.
“Hold on girly, we’re coming! Don’t move. We don’t want you to fall.” This was the same voice she’d heard first, but he sounded closer this time.
Not wanting to fall, and unsure if her wings even worked, Tilly held very still as she felt the limbs below her move. Whomever was climbing to her rescue was just below her now. Finally, a heavily bearded, but kind face appeared and looked appraisingly at Tilly before speaking. “So, you’re Alexa’s ornament for this year. Do you know your name yet?”
Tilly blinked at the smiling, but no-nonsense figure donning a blue robe and flowing headpiece with a tiny golden colored crown over that. “Y— yes, I’m Tilly. Tilly Tippy Toes?” she answered hesitantly. At least it felt right coming off her tongue.
“Nice to meet you, Tilly. I’m Balthazar. I’m going to unhook you from your perch, then once we get you on a stable surface, I’ll explain everything.”
Balthazar patted Tilly reassuringly on the shoulder, then climbed a little higher. He hooked the crook of his long shepherd’s staff around her torso. “Plant your feet firmly on the limb you’re standing on and hold tight to the staff, in case you slip, okay?”
He made quick work of the wire hook a few inches above her and soon she felt gravity weigh her down. Her feet alighted on the branch, and she relaxed a little, finding the wire and plastic-needled branch held her full weight easily without giving way.
“Good, Tilly. Now, we’re going to climb down the tree. I’ll go first and you follow me.”
Silently and slowly, Tilly followed his instructions, amazed by the bright lights and decorations as they passed. Soon, they were on the bottom branches of the four-foot-tall tree.
“Are you ready down there?” Balthazar shouted to the group below.
A small, brown teddy bear wearing a Santa suit called back up, “We’re ready! Jump one at a time.”
Balthazar tossed down his staff to another fellow dressed much like himself, then he turned back to Tilly. “Okay, see that puffy cotton stuffing the boys are stationed around? I’ll jump into it. Then, when I tell you to, you jump the same way. Right into the cotton. Unless you can fly already, that is?”
He surveyed her short and thick wings, and Tilly tried hard to make them flutter, only getting a tiny bit of movement to happen. “No, you’d better jump. You can learn to fly later.”
Tilly wasn’t sure about jumping a whole foot down—that was a long way for a two-inch tall angel. But she knew flying wasn’t going to happen, so jump it would have to be. Before she could think on it further, Balthazar made the leap, gently landing in the large pile of soft, white fibers. He made it look so easy. The variety of small men and animals who were holding the snow-like cotton tight, quickly helped him down from the fluff, and soon he stood on the solid wooden tabletop with the rest of them.
Straightening his robes, he hollered up to Tilly, “Your turn, my dear! Just jump straight down. You can do it.”
His voice was reassuring and calm, easing Tilly’s fears. So, without another thought she jumped. The tiny plume of feathers making up her pink tutu quivered upward as she fell downward, and she released a tiny yelp as her insides fluttered with the sudden fall. Soon, she was engulfed on the bright white pile, bouncing a bit upon impact.
A pair of hands found her and the next thing she knew, she was being pulled safely out of the fake snow decor to stand on her own two feet. Once she met solid ground, a cheer rose from all around her as friendly faces in various shapes and sizes came closer. They all seemed much larger here on the tabletop than they had from up in the tree. Seeking out Balthazar, Tilly gave him a smile, “I did it!”
“Yes, you did!” he replied with kind pride. Placing his hand on her shoulder, he turned to the others. “Everyone, this is Tilly, and she’s our newest addition. Let us get her comfortable—she’s got some catching up to do.”